School of Social Sciences Master of Global Affairs Program to Host 2024 NASPAA Student Simulation Competition

Rice University campus

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, the School of Social Sciences Master of Global Affairs (MGA) Program will host the 2024 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Simulation Competition on campus in Kraft Hall. The MGA Program was selected from a competitive pool of applicants to be a 2024 host. In addition to Texas, this year’s competition will connect students from around the world at a virtual site and 11 other host sites, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Brazil, Hungary, and several locations in the United States.

2024 NASPAA Host Nations Simulation Competition flyer
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“We’re so pleased that NASPAA decided to host their annual simulation competition at Rice,” said Rachel Kimbro, dean of the School of Social Sciences. “This is a great example of how we aim to connect our students with innovative learning experiences and gives us the opportunity to highlight Houston as a major hub at the intersection of policy and action.”

The MGA is a two-year professional master’s degree co-sponsored by the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy and the School of Social Sciences. Current enrolled MGA students have been hard at work preparing – as hosts and as participants – for this year’s NASPAA competition. In addition to the meaningful experience participants will receive from the simulation, the event presents an excellent opportunity for visiting students to explore Rice and experience Houston.

A collaboration between DMS Academy and NASPAA, this year’s simulation competition will tackle policy issues associated with forced migration through computer-based simulated gameplay. Created and improved by experts at DMS Academy who utilized extensive real-world data, the simulation places students in leadership roles within a time-sensitive, fast-paced environment where they must work together to solve complex policy issues.

Built specifically for students of public policy, Host Nations: A Refugee Simulation is a web-based experiential learning tool. Taking on roles such as Prime Minister, Minister of Labor, or Minister of Health and Human Services, players will work in teams to manage a large-scale migrant arrival. Each player will oversee a distinct policy portfolio, and the decisions they make will affect not only their own country but the other teams’ countries as well. The game challenges participants to weigh human rights, integration, and GDP growth against budget restrictions and political resistance.

“This type of policy simulation is invaluable for students, who will have to use analytical skills to make quick decisions and evaluate tradeoffs,” said Kelsey Norman, fellow for the Middle East at the Baker Institute and director of the Women’s Rights, Human Rights, and Refugees Program. “I am very glad to see that this year’s topic is forced displacement, which is both a politically difficult subject and one that greatly affects real people’s lives.”

Teams will be evaluated on simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations made to regional site judges. The panel of renowned judges will determine the global 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams with awards of $3,000, $1,500, and $750, respectively.

Thousands of students from NASPAA’s global network have participated in the simulation competition, which examines a different multifaceted policy issue each year. The Host Nations simulation has been used in NASPAA classrooms around the world and by USAID to teach important concepts about migration policy as well as critical thinking skills. Interested academics may nominate a student by February 6, 2024 to be on a team in this year’s simulation hosted by the MGA Program.